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Fixing Skill Shortages Needs Training, Immigration

Media release 29 August 2002

Fixing skill shortages requires workplace training and immigration

Not since 1975 have businesses had as much trouble finding employees so they can expand, says Business NZ Chief Executive Simon Carlaw.

The Labour Department's June quarter skill shortages report released today reveals that 12% of businesses now rate their inability to find labour as the number one constraint in expanding output.

Many sectors and regions are finding it increasingly difficulty to find both skilled and unskilled labour. The manufacturing sector and South Island companies generally are the most affected - 43% of manufacturers and 53% of all South Island businesses are having increasing difficulty in finding skilled labour to meet their needs.

"If businesses can't find the labour they need, then the growth needed to lift our living standards will not be achieved." Mr Carlaw said.

"Addressing skill shortages requires a range of responses, both short and long term. Immigration is an important factor. Far from 'taking jobs from New Zealanders,' immigration enables our businesses to grow and create job opportunities for everyone. It could also put pressure on wages and lead to higher inflation, requiring higher interest rates to dampen demand.

"Workplace training is critical in the medium term. Training in the workplace has a faster turn-around time than institutional programmes, and is well placed to meet the specific needs of firms.

"In the long run, we need to address the basic skill needs of those not even currently looking for work. This means addressing basic literacy, communication, maths and computing skills."


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